By Eric Margolis
February 7, 2015
The UNZ Review

Claims that Saudi Arabia was behind the 9/11 attacks on America have been circulating since 2001. The Saudis have denied all such claims even though 15 of the 19 aircraft hijackers were Saudi citizens.

This week, allegations of Saudi involvement reignited as one of the men convicted in the 9/11 plot, Zacarias Moussaoui, reasserted the allegations. Moussaoui, who is in US maximum security prison, charges senior Saudi princes and officials bankrolled the 9/11 attacks and other al-Qaida operations. He may have been tortured and has mental problems.

Among the Saudis Moussaoui named are Prince Turki Faisal, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, two of the kingdom’s most powerful and influential men. Turki was head of Saudi intelligence; Bandar ambassador to Washington during the Bush administration.

These accusation come at a time when there is a furious struggle in Washington over releasing secret pages of the Congressional Intelligence Committee report on the 9/11 attacks that reportedly implicated Saudi Arabia. The White House claims the report would be embarrassing and damage US-Saudi relations.

I have been following this twisted tale since the 1980’s when I was in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Peshawar, Pakistan’s wild border city, I met with Sheik Abdullah Azzam, founder of al-Qaida.

At the time, al-Qaida was a tiny, store-front information bureau supporting the “mujahidin” fighters being sent by Saudi Arabia and the US to fight the Soviets occupying Afghanistan.

Sheik Abdullah, a renowned exponent of “jihad,” told me something that shook me: “when we have liberated Afghanistan from Soviet colonialism, we will go on and liberate Saudi Arabia from American colonial rule.” This was the first time I had ever heard America called a colonial power.

Azzam was assassinated soon after. But his star pupil, one Osama bin Laden, carried on Azzam’s quest to drive western influence from the Muslim world.

At the time, “our” Muslims fighting Soviet occupation were hailed as “freedom fighters” by President Ronald Reagan. Today, in a re-writing of history, they are widely called “terrorists.”

What Moussaoui reportedly said is that the two aforementioned senior Saudi princes, Turki and Bandar, donated money to the Afghan mujahidin during the 1980’s, not to al-Qaida. Many Americans will fail to understand the distinction

Saudi Arabia funneled large sums of money to militant groups in the Mideast, Balkans, Caucasus, Africa and South Asia. The purpose was twofold: first, to keep young hotheads as far as possible from the kingdom; second, to combat Iran’s spreading influence. Washington gave tacit backing.

Iran, gripped by Islamic revolutionary zeal, was sending preachers and teachers all over Asia and Africa, notably so in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Saudis, deathly afraid of the Islamic revolution in Tehran that called for sharing oil wealth with the Muslim world’s poor, waged a long proxy war against Iran that pitted Wahabi Sunnis against Shia. Washington, gripped by anti-Iranian fever, backed the Saudi religious offensive.

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